An Essential Guide To Finding The Best Guitar Loop Pedal

Finding the best guitar loop pedal for your pedalboard depends largely on your needs as a guitarist – Let’s discuss!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • What to look for in a loop pedal
  • What some of the most popular loop pedals are
  • Tips on pedal durability
  • The basic requirements of a good loop pedal
  • How to make the right buying decision!

Finding The Best Guitar Loop Pedal Depends On Your Needs

It’s a wonderful time to be a live looper!

With technology moving forward at such an alarming rate in the guitar and music world, new pedals are constantly being built and improved upon to make our lives easier.

One such technology that has made huge strides in recent years is the loop pedal.

Loop pedals are designed to record and playback whatever we play into them, making them an ideal tool for solo musicians who are looking to expand their sound and dive deeper into what they can accomplish by themselves.

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Guitarists are finding new ways to modify and build incredibly versatile pedalboards all the time.

  • Finding the best guitar loop pedal to put at the end of that signal chain means unlocking all the power of your pedalboard at once. That’s powerful stuff!
  • In this article, we’re going to discuss what to look for before you invest in the best guitar loop pedal for your needs and budget.

Not everyone will need a maxed-out looper like the BOSS RC-300, for example.

Some of us require a pedal that is compact and fits easily on our pedalboard.

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Pro Tip: A great way to go about spending on a new pedal for your setup is to determine what your needs are first, and figure out if that pedal will satisfy everything you need it to do.

This takes time and research, as well as potentially a bit of trial & error – but it’s worth it. You’ll wind up with a pedalboard that does everything you need it to do without terrorizing your bank account. Win-win!

Now let’s break down the essentials.

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What Should You Be Looking For?

This could become a really long list of requirements if we’re not careful, so we’re going to stick with the practical essentials for this lesson on finding the best guitar loop pedal.

We’ll go into more detail below, but the primary things to consider when buying a loop pedal are:

  • What is the build quality? Is it durable?
  • How many tracks can I record with?
  • What is the sound quality?
  • How easy is it to use?
  • How much can I do with it, and will it last me more than a year?

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Pro Tip: That last point is super important.

Longevity is a thing we need to consider when buying a loop pedal.

  • Sure, you may just be gaining interest now, but is this something that you might begin taking more seriously down the line?
  • If so, the best guitar loop pedal for you may be something a bit heftier like the BOSS RC-30.

Investing in something a little bit bigger up front means we will hit fewer walls later in terms of the options we may want or require.

Our needs as guitarists change constantly, and we’re constantly forced into situations where we have to re-evaluate our guitar setup to achieve the best sound possible. Arm yourself with options!

Now let’s talk build quality!

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Best Guitar Loop Pedal Requirements – Design & Build

Design is arguably more important than sound when it comes to guitar pedals.

  • Something might sound fantastic – but if it’s easily breakable and made with cheap materials, it won’t hold up on stage or on your pedalboard.
  • Thankfully, the most notable loop pedal makers take their build quality incredibly seriously.

BOSS Pedals even shot a video of them running over one of their pedals with a truck and then playing through it to show you how tough their pedals can be!

A typical rule of thumb when looking for the best guitar loop pedal for you is that you should be mindful of how big the buttons are on the pedal itself.

Is it easy to trigger the record function? Is it easy to stop the recording? It should be!

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A good practice for buying pedals is to hold the pedal in your hand and feel the weight of it.

  • If it’s a heavier build, chances are it’s made from a more dense material and will house its wiring much better.
  • The more material you have been the wiring of the pedal and the weight of your foot, the better.

It doesn’t make sense to gently try out a pedal. Once it’s strapped to your board and you’re playing with it regularly, it’s going to get hit with some serious weight from your foot.

Pro Tip: Loop pedals should be durable enough to endure constantly being triggered off and on.

A great example of a well-built loop pedal is the EHX 95000. This pedal has faders built into it as well for adjusting the volume of individual tracks, which is super handy!

Watch Reggie Watts demo it here.

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Best Guitar Loop Pedal Requirements – Ease Of Use

It’s never fun when things are difficult.

  • When you’re creating loops, you’re usually thinking on the fly.
  • Live looping is very much about creating in the moment, and therefore you don’t want to have to stress over which button lets you record, or what happened to the last loop you made that you suddenly can’t turn back on.
  • The more we can focus on creating, the better we will sound.

With that in mind, the best guitar loop pedal is usually as easy to learn as it is to use.

Pedals like the TC Electronics Ditto are simple in their design and are designed for loopers who favor minimalism. You get one button and it does all the work.

Now that’s what we call ease of use!

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Another thing we should mention where ease of use is concerned is true bypass pedals.

  • ‘True bypass’ means that the pedal will not produce any residual noise when it isn’t engaged. This is important for us to be able to maintain a clear and crisp signal while we play.
  • Many other pedals that are not true bypass may also not be ideal for being attached to a loop pedal, as that pedal will pick up all of the noise that is fed through it. This includes any noise generated from your idle guitar pedals.

Did we mention that the Ditto is true bypass?

Now, how much should the best guitar loop pedal let us record?

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Best Guitar Loop Pedal Requirements – Number Of Tracks

This is quite possibly one of the most important components of looping, and draws on what we said earlier about giving yourself options.

  • Although the TC Electronics Ditto is simple to use with just one button, it’s also limited to just that one button, meaning only one track to record with.
  • Now, you can record over that track as much as you want – but you won’t be able to trigger any tracks on and off, and you won’t be able to fade your volume at all.

These components are important to some, and not to others – What about you?

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Writer’s Note: My favourite and most practical pedal is the BOSS RC-30 Loop Station. This sturdy pedal has sat at the end of my signal chain on my pedalboard for over five years and counting, and has never once failed me.

  • You have two available channels to record on, which is often quite enough. Each channel can be switched off and on, and it also comes with five built-in effects that work great!
  • If you want more than two tracks to record with, this pedal may not be for you. If you want ease of use, practicality and great sound quality, then this pedal is definitely for you.

Try one out for yourself to see how you like it, and check out the RC-30 in action here.

So, how much can the best guitar loop pedal handle?

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Best Guitar Loop Pedal Requirements – Number Of Inputs

If you’re a one-instrument kind of person, you don’t need to worry so much about this section.

  • However if you’re a more experienced looper, you might want to consider what else you want to play with through your loop pedal.
  • Many loop pedals offer more than one input jack in order for you to use more than one instrument inside your loops.
  • This is great for those of us who maybe want to record both guitar and bass, or a keyboard as well.

Many other units also come with an XLR jack so that you can connect a microphone (we’re looking at you, beatboxers).

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Pro Tip: Renting a loop pedal is often a great way to determine the best guitar loop pedal for you.

You might like to rent something that’s a bit bigger than what you think you might need.

  • Checking out the options on a larger model will help you determine what you like as well as both what you need and don’t need.
  • Loop pedals with a microphone input (XLR) also help us record virtually anything that doesn’t have its own pickup. Want to make a percussion section with a water bottle?
  • Set a microphone in front of it and voila – Water bottle drum!

When we are able to loop using a microphone, we open up a whole world of new options for recording sound. Don’t be afraid to get a bit silly with it – Inspiration is everywhere!

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The Digitech Jam Man Stereo Looper comes equipped with an XLR jack for microphone usage.

Beware, however: Most loop pedals with an XLR jack will not have phantom power. This means that you cannot use certain larger microphones with these units. Stick to using a Shure SM57/58 style microphone to make sure you don’t break a mic!

We’ve already mentioned onboard effects, but let’s talk about why they’re important:

What’s The Deal With Onboard Effects?

Onboard effects are simply effects that come installed on the loop pedal itself.

Many of the best loop pedals on the market come with a variety of effects included to help you flesh out new sounds in your loop sessions.

These effects can be triggered off and on, providing you with more sonic options for live looping.

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The BOSS RC-505 looper has a bunch of unique effects built into it that make writing music and atmospheres a breeze.

  • This loop pedal, in particular, can also be triggered using the hands because of its tabletop design – a unique innovation on pedalboard-based loop pedals.
  • The best guitar loop pedal for you should ideally have a few built-in effects for you to play with.

Again, we want as many options as we can get our hands on in order to maximize our creativity, so make sure you shop around!

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Find The Best Guitar Loop Pedal For Your Needs & Budget

The best guitar loop pedal will ultimately depend upon what you need it for and how much you’re willing to spend on it, but you should make sure to do plenty of research before you commit to buying one.

The most valuable decisions are made out of weighing our options and deciding what works best, so take the time to try out a variety of different pedals before deciding on the best guitar loop pedal for you.

Loop pedals can stack up in price rather quickly, and some retailers may sell different pedals for slightly different prices.

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Pro Tip: Check the used market!

This is the best place to buy pedals – hands down!

  • Guitarists have a tendency to buy first and ask questions later, so many good-as-new guitar pedals end up on the used market at a ‘used’ price point.
  • This is a great chance to score a killer deal on the best guitar loop pedal for your setup!
  • Many people who sell gear on the used market are excellent to deal with, and some will even let you barter for a better price!

Others are even open to trades, so if you have a valuable piece of equipment that you don’t use anymore, offer it up for trade!

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Finally, here’s a short-list of some of our best guitar loop pedal suggestions:

  • BOSS RC-30
  • TC Electronics Ditto
  • EHX 45000
  • EHX 95000
  • BOSS RC505

Finding the best guitar loop pedal for you will take some time, as well as trial & error to determine what you will ultimately do with it. Experiment freely and find what’s right for you!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Still on the hunt for the best guitar loop pedal for you? We recommend:

  • Ask around online in different forums and Facebook groups, and compare peoples’ testimonials on different loop pedals
  • Head to your local music store and try them all out!
  • Watch YouTube videos reviewing the pedals you’re interested in
  • Rent a pedal that you’re interested in and sit with it for a good few days to see what you like (and don’t like) about it!

Recommended Resources

If you loved this lesson on what to look for in the best guitar loop pedal for you, then you’ll love these other resources we’ve got for you below!

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